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Fish Oil FAQs

There’s no need to supplement with fish oil if you consume seafood regularly?

Seafood is not only a great source of protein, but also rich in long-chain omega-3 EPA and DHA fatty acids. Unfortunately, the quality matters. Some types of seafood may contain high levels of heavy metals such as mercury that could be harmful to health. The way seafood is prepared can also have an impact on the delicate nature of the polyunsaturated EPA and DHA oils.


The best dietary sources of EPA and DHA omega-3s include salmon, anchovies, herring, shad, sardines, Pacific oysters, trout, and Atlantic and Pacific mackerel. Especially if pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important to limit or avoid intake of swordfish, King mackerel, tilefish, Bigeye tuna, marlin and orange roughly because of high levels of mercury.

Cooking, especially frying, can harm the inherent properties of polyunsaturated oils. For this reason, fried fish is not recommended as a dietary source of EPA and DHA omega-3s. Additionally, the kinds of fish that are typically used in frying, such as haddock, tilapia, or cod, and other white fish tend to have low amounts of polyunsaturated oils.

Regardless of intake, scientific data from national surveys and blood analysis has shown that a majority of U.S. adults don’t meet dietary recommendations for omega-3 intake and have lower than recommended plasma levels of EPA and DHA omega-3s. For these reasons, dietary supplementation is a useful strategy for receiving EPA and DHA omega-3s from fish in optimum amounts daily to fulfill nutritional gaps or to receive desired benefits.

Can you can get all the omega-3s you need from plants?

While it’s true that plant foods such as walnuts and flaxseed are rich in alpha-linolenic acid, an essential omega 3 fatty acid, conversion to long-chain EPA and DHA are low in humans. Quite specifically, EPA and DHA are the two omega-3s that have been heavily studied and reported to contribute to overall health benefits including cardiovascular health.

Are some forms of EPA and DHA omega-3s better than other forms for the body?

Whether from fish, krill, algae, as ethyl esters or triglycerides, it’s the total amount of EPA and DHA in the end that matters most for increasing plasma levels in the body.

Does liquid fish oil lead to greater absorption of DHA and EPA as compared to softgels?

There is no difference in absorption of DHA and EPA omega-3s whether they are present as a liquid in a bottle or in softgels. However, softgels help to minimize any degradation of fish oil while liquid oils may be subject to degradation if exposed to light, heat, or oxygen.

Is it best to take a supplement that includes a blend of polyunsaturated oils including omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids?

A balanced intake of polyunsaturated oils including omega-3s as alpha-linolenic acid and omega-6s as linoleic acid is essential for health. While omega-9 oils still may be considered a nutritious component of the diet, they are not considered essential.

For the most part, these are all found in plentiful amounts in our diets so supplementation isn’t generally necessary. The exception is DHA and EPA omega-3s, which are polyunsaturated oils found mainly in fatty fish and fish oil supplements that are associated with a wide variety of health benefits.

Is the use of mixed tocopherols in fish oil unhealthy?

In dietary supplements such as softgels, mixed tocopherols, including d-alpha tocopherol (vitamin E), help maintain the freshness of fish oil products.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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